Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide


Who we are?

We are the only organisation offering peer-to-peer support to all those over the age of 18, impacted by suicide loss in the UK. We help those bereaved by suicide to support each other, at the time of their loss and in the months and years that follow. We are a self-help organisation and we provide a safe, confidential environment in which bereaved people can share their experiences and feelings. We offer peer led support groups, online virtual support groups, a national telephone helpline, online community forum and email support. We offer a unique and distinct service for bereaved adults across the UK, run by the bereaved for the bereaved. Suicide recognises no social, ethnic or cultural boundaries and neither do we. Our helpline and groups are open to all survivors of bereavement by suicide aged 18 years and over.

Volunteer for us and make a difference.

Our volunteers at Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide are truly the heartbeat of our charity. They provide support to those impacted by suicide in many ways. Manning telephone helplines, email support, facilitating groups and organising retreats. They support, fundraise, fight to break suicide stigma and raise awareness of Mental Health. All of this in their own time, all of this to stop those who have experienced the tragedy of suicide, suffering alone.

Who can volunteer?

To volunteer as a group facilitator or helpline volunteer you must:

  • Be over the age of 18.
  • Bereaved by suicide for more than 2 years
  • Have attended at least one virtual or face to face SoBS support group.

If you would like to support a group you can do this even if you have not been personally affected by suicide. Your role could include making refreshments, fundraising of administration tasks. You will still be required to complete the group volunteer training along with your fellow volunteers.

Am I ready to volunteer?

Being a volunteer with SoBS can be rewarding but demanding work. We offer a full training package which covers both the practical and the emotional aspects of being a volunteer and our support team are always available to support our volunteers as well as offering regular supervision. There are still many aspects which you may want to consider before applying to volunteer with our charity such as your own grief journey and how you may feel hearing others speaking about theirs. 

Volunteering in Suicide Bereavement Peer Support: Self-Assessment Sheet

If you have taken our volunteering self assessment and have decided that volunteering with our charity is for you, read on for more information about the volunteering opportunities we have available.

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Volunteer Opportunities

Group Volunteer

We run local SoBS support groups at locations around the UK – and we are always looking to open more. Groups are open to anyone over 18 and create an opportunity for people to meet with others who have been bereaved by suicide so that they can share experiences and ask questions.  They meet once a month, at a set time and location.

Each local SoBS group is run by a team of 3 group volunteers. Between them, they facilitate the session, get the conversation started, make sure everyone has the opportunity to talk if they want to, and generally look out for people. The team also work together to manage the administration, fundraising and communication for the group.

Great group volunteers do more listening than talking, are comfortable listening to the experiences of others and pay attention to their own well-being and boundaries.

All volunteers are to be bereaved by suicide for more than 2 years. This shared experience with the people who come to our groups is a really important part of what makes them so effective.  People feel that they will be understood. There are opportunities for those who have not been bereaved to volunteer to support with the running of the group. This could include making refreshments, fundraising and administration tasks but not to facilitate a support group.

  • All volunteers are advised to attend a SoBS support group before applying to become a volunteer (either face to face or virtual) unless applying for a supporting role.
  • All 3 volunteers must attend SoBS training before a group can start.
  • A group can be made up of two bereaved volunteers and one supporting volunteer.

We hope that you will consider volunteering for Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide and we hope to hear from you soon.

Helpline Volunteer

We operate a national helpline, open from 9am to 9pm, 7 days per week, 52 weeks of the year.

Helpline volunteers listen to callers, answer any questions they have and arrange to send them further information if required. Sometimes callers may ask you to share your personal story. They have shifts assigned in advance governed by their availability and can be between 30 minutes and 4 hours long, depending on the volunteers preference. The telephone helpline is diverted to a volunteers land line for these shifts.

All helpline volunteers must have a working landline and phone to apply.

Fundraiser

Join our Fundraising Heroes and raise funds and awareness for our charity. 

If you have not been bereaved by suicide for 2 years or would prefer to have a non bereavement support role then fundraising may be for you. 

As a not for profit organisation, we rely on the generosity of the public, charitable trusts and other organisations to fund our work. We are incredibly grateful to all of our fundraisers and donors, without them, we simply couldn't continue our vital role. 

You do not need to become a volunteer to fundraise or raise awareness for us, simply email social.media@uksobs.org for more information.

Frequently asked Questions about volunteering with SoBS

Being one of our volunteers is rewarding but demanding work.  Here are some honest answers to the most common questions people ask about becoming volunteers:

What kind of people volunteer for SoBS?

People from all walks of life volunteer for SoBS. Meet some of our current volunteers here and read their personal experience of suicide loss and how it brought them to a volunteering role with our charity.

Do I have to have been bereaved by suicide?

Being bereaved by suicide more than *2 years previously is a requirement if you would like to work on our helpline, email support or be a group facilitator. However, if you would like to support a group or fundraise you can do this even if you have not been personally affected by suicide.

How much time will it take?

If you work on the helpline, you will be allocated shifts arranged around your availability, each between 30 minutes and 4 hours long. How many you sign up for will determine how much time you give. This is similar with email support – though the number of emails and their complexity will determine how long it takes.

For a team facilitating a group, the minimum time is around 5 to 6 hours a month each – 3 hours to run the group (including set up and close down) and then 3 hours each for phone calls, administration etc. This can vary depending on the number of callers etc. It helps if you can work flexibly as a team to share the workload.  The time requirement may be greater when first setting up a group.

Some volunteers also choose to get more heavily involved in local activity such as publicity and education, as well as running a service, which can increase the time required.

For all roles, you should think about the fact that it can be emotionally demanding work and factor in the need for your own time and space.

There isn’t a group near me – can I start one?

If you are interested in opening a new group, you will need to form a team of three and all Volunteers must have been bereaved by suicide for 2 years or more. We can offer you advice about attracting new volunteers, setting up and publicising new groups. If you don’t feel that this is for you, then consider supporting our helpline or email services or you could support us through publicity and fundraising.

Do I have to be a trained counsellor?

Our services are about self help – we bring people together who have been bereaved by suicide so that they can share their experiences and learning.  We do signpost people to counselling organisations if they would like to explore this option.  Some of our volunteers are also trained counsellors however we do not require them to use this skill in delivering our services.

If you are interested in developing or using your counselling skills, there are other organisations who offer this service.

What training is available?

We offer training to volunteers before they deliver our services. This covers both the practical and the emotional aspects of being a volunteer. We also seek to match people with a “mentor” – a more experienced volunteer who they can work with and learn from. Our support team are always available to support our volunteers.